Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Get involved in NSGC – start by joining a SIG!

By guest blogger Karin Dent, NSGC President Elect.

Hello Everyone! I would like to take this opportunity to introduce myself to you. My name is Karin Dent and I am President-Elect of NSGC. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Genetic Counseling Program in 1998. Since then I have been employed at the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics. My involvement with NSGC began as a member of the Pediatrics SIG in 1998 and continued for several years. To me the SIG was a group of experts I could turn to for professional advice and guidance as I was finding my place in the pediatric counseling world. It was exciting to be a part of a group of colleagues who were interested in many of the same issues as me.

For many years the SIGs have continued to be a great place for NSGC members to become involved in their professional organization. SIGs provide opportunities for networking, professional development, and development of leadership skills. The number of SIGs has increased significantly over the past 10 years, and as a result the volunteer opportunities available to NSGC members continue to grow. Several times the NSGC has turned to SIGs for expert advice in their specialties or areas of interest. And we should be utilizing the SIG expertise even more. The SIGs are uniquely qualified to educate and update their members as well as the general NSGC membership on cutting edge science and technologies, as well as identifying emerging trends in specialty areas.

We have created a plan, called the SIG Enhancement Strategy and Implementation Plan, to further utilize the unique abilities and resources that exist in SIGs, promote and develop their leadership, and enhance the SIGs’ contributions to NSGC and our profession as a whole. This plan was developed by NSGC leaders as well as a SIG Governance and Enhancement Strategy Task Force that consisted of four SIG chairs (Leigha Senter, Cancer SIG; Martha Dudek, FIT SIG; Jessica Mester, Pediatrics SIG; Emily Edelman, Personalized Medicine SIG) representing various-sized SIGs and years of establishment. In addition, Sheetal Parmar, NSGC Membership Committee Chair, represented the interests of the NSGC general membership. The purpose of the SIG Enhancement Strategy and Plan is to ensure the expertise and resources within NSGC’s SIGs are being translated to the general membership, develop additional leadership opportunities within the SIGs, and further increase the value of SIGs to NSGC members and the genetic counseling profession.

The SIG plan will be discussed in detail on a call with the SIG Chairs on November 18. Some highlights of the plan include:

- The assignment of annual charges to all SIGs. These charges will help guide the SIGs in developing their education goals, contributions to NSGC’s strategic plan, and in providing benefits to the SIG members.

- Increase of the minimum number of individuals required to establish a new SIG to 15. A potential new SIG with fewer than 15 individuals may choose to start as a subgroup under a larger umbrella SIG. This would allow that group time to recruit additional members, develop projects, and foster leadership development and mentoring by the umbrella SIG chairs.

- Annual self-evaluation. This will help SIGs assess their progress over the year and assist them with setting their goals and objectives for the following year.

- SIGs will be led by a Chair and Vice-Chair in which the Vice-Chair becomes Chair the following year. This staggered governance structure will allow continuity of leadership and streamlined transition in leadership and strategic projects.

2011 will be a transition year for the NSGC SIGs as we implement this plan. If you are looking for a way to get involved with NSGC, consider starting with a SIG. You may find a collaborative group of experts who share similar professional interests. You may be able to work on a task force, create an educational program for the organization, network and develop leadership skills, and most importantly, share your expertise with the entire organization.

I am looking forward to leading our great organization in 2011. I am excited to meet and get to know more of the many wonderful genetic counselors who make up our diverse society.